Watch live Bloody Sunday prosecution decision

Blanche Robertson
March 14, 2019

Families of victims of Bloody Sunday, in which 13 unarmed protesters were killed in 1972, marched before the prosecutor's announced charges against a former British paratrooper.

Families of the victims will be told if any of the former soldiers, now in their 60s and 70s, are to face charges shortly before the news is made public.

The PPS said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute 16 other soldiers and two official IRA men.

Northern Ireland's director of public prosecutions Stephen Herron said: "It has been concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney, and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell".

Ciaran Shiels, the solicitor for several of the victims' families, said: "We are disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial".

Bloody Sunday was one of the darkest episodes in Northern Ireland's Troubles.

"But I'm very saddened for the other Bloody Sunday families who have not got justice here today and whose hearts must be broken and sore now".

Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday march through the Bogside in Londonderry ahead of the announcement on prosecutions.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead said: "I was going to begin by saying it was a good morning, but it's not".

ULSTER Sunday Timeline

Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said he was conscious relatives faced an "extremely hard day". We wanted to meet with them personally to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons.

He said: "We have walked a long journey since our fathers and brothers were brutally slaughtered on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday, over that passage of time all the parents of the deceased have died".

A public inquiry found that British troops fired first and had given misleading accounts of what happened. "Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will cover the legal costs of any soldier facing criminal charges over Bloody Sunday.

A Government spokesperson said: "The welfare of our personnel and veterans is of the utmost importance and we provide legal and pastoral support to any veteran who requires it".

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron issued an apology and said the soldiers' conduct was "unjustified and unjustifiable".

The complex investigation files included 668 witness statements, numerous physical exhibits such as photographs, video and audio recordings, and a total of 125,000 pages of material.

The Saville Report, which was published in 2010 after a 12-year inquiry by High Court Judge Lord Saville, reversed the findings of a hastily-convened inquiry from 1972 by another judge, Lord Widgery, who concluded the soldiers only fired after being fired upon.

The charges announced yesterday come more than two years after police referred their findings to prosecutors and nearly nine years after the conclusion of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, which was tasked with determining what happened, not bringing criminal charges.

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